Mexico’s Binational and Bicultural Heart of Industry
As one of the most important border towns in the world, Ciudad Juarez, located in Mexico’s largest state of Chihuahua, is known for manufacturing, exporting, and a pioneer in the maquila industry. The city is currently home to around 1.5 million people and more than four generations of citizens who are constantly adapting to the needs of the area’s industry in various sectors.
Ciudad Juarez and its sister cities in the United States, El Paso, Texas, and Santa Teresa, New Mexico, make up one of the most economically significant binational regions globally. As the second-most populated zone along the US-Mexico border, Ciudad Juarez is also home to the largest bilingual and binational workforce in the western hemisphere. Nearly half of the area’s inhabitants work in the manufacturing sector, providing great flexibility for companies. Employees even rotate in three shifts a day, including weekends, to allow for 24/7 operations.
Ciudad Juarez’s industrial vocation arose upon the conclusion of the Mexican Farm Labor Program (known as the Braceros program) in the 1960s when thousands of Mexican farmworkers were returning to Mexico from the US in search of work, giving rise to the establishment of the maquiladora export industry (IMMEX). The first company to set up in Ciudad Juarez was the television maker RCA in 1969. Since then, many international companies have established nearshore and offshore manufacturing in Mexico here to leverage the labor and logistics advantages it offers, among others. The six primary industries in the area are automotive and auto parts, electronics, medical devices, metal and mechanics, home appliances, and logistics.
Some of the most prominent companies in these sectors include BRP, Lear, Delphi, and Bosch in automotive manufacturing; Foxconn, Wistron, General Electric, and Honeywell in electronic manufacturing; and Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, GE Healthcare, and in medical devices manufacturing, to name a few. The automotive and auto parts sector is one of the city’s most developed industries, with manufacturing operations providing critical components for assembly plants in other parts of central Mexico, including Guanajuato (GTO), Queretaro, and Mexico States.
The technology employed in logistics processes along the international border streamlines the crossing of goods, equipment, and materials, reducing wait times to just two hours. This agility allows for shorter delivery times coming in and out of the US than other border crossings. There is also a specialized entrance at San Jeronimo, Chihuahua-Santa Teresa, New Mexico, to accommodate oversized merchandise, such as wind turbine blades and mobile and motor homes, among other loads with excessive weight and dimensions.
Chihuahua Global, AC is one of the region’s most influential organizations that attracts foreign investment in the state. From its main offices in Juarez, this public and private partnership coordinates the efforts of stakeholders in the maquila industry, which together represent nearly 50% of the state’s entire GDP.
With Ciudad Juarez’s long history of industry, geographic location on the US border, and excellent labor culture, stability, and availability, among other advantages, it is a crucial region to look at for companies looking to start up business in Mexico, especially those serving US markets.
By Juan Iván Álvarez Chabre | Cd. Juarez Regional Director | American Industries Group®
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